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New Life Bible Chapel - Friday Bible Study - The book of Acts by Ritchin Sen In Acts 4 we saw how

Peter and John were arrested and Peter boldly defends the gospel before the Sanhedrin and they were let free. The believers whom they gathered with, devoted themselves to prayer for boldness and they were filled with the Holy Spirit after the whole place shook. Acts 5 I The Deceitfulness and Death of the Couple (Acts 5:1-11) a. v.1-2 Reading from Acts 4:32 onwards we see that section forms an introduction to the events of Acts 5. We saw the unity the new believers had and how they shared everything they had. A widely used and noble practise was that of selling off of ones land and giving all the proceeds to the Apostles for any need that comes up. We even saw Barnabas selling his land and giving all the proceeds to the Apostles. Now in Acts 5:1-2 we see the couple of Ananias and Sapphira who were amongst these believers and they sold a piece of property and with his wifes knowledge, he kept back a part of the proceeds for his private use. They had every right to do so. And the remaining was brought to the Apostles and given to them for the its use in supporting their community. APPLICATION QUESTION 1: (Read Exo.17:2; Num. 20:8; Deut.6:16; Josh. 7) a. What was the sin of Ananias and Sapphira? b. What did they do wrong?

b. v.3 In his account we can see that Luke charges Ananias twice in keeping part of the proceeds from the property for himself (v.2, he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and v.3, keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?). This indicates that the common practise at that time was to lay down everything at the Apostles feet for the Lords ministry and that Ananias was perverting that practise by claiming to do more than what he was actually doing. So Ananias was claiming that he dedicated the whole proceeds from the property to the Lords work. Ananias might have been trying to get a higher standing in society and the way he chose to do that was by trying to deceive the community which was like trying to deceive the Holy Spirit. In v.3 we can see that Peter perceived, with the help of the Holy Spirit, the wrong that Ananias did. With his words, Peter was informing Ananias the brevity of his sin. Stating that it was Satan who was the instigator behind his act. This is again a contrast between the Spirit filling believers and Satan filling Ananias heart. c. v.4 In the next verse we can see Peter making clear indication to the fact that giving of proceeds to the early church or charity was totally voluntary. What Peter was saying is that Ananias didnt have to give anything. The land before it was sold was his and he was free to use it as he pleased. There was no pressure on Ananias to sell his property. Even after selling it, the money he received from its sale was also his to use however he pleased. On a side note, Peter accuses Ananias in v.3 of lying to the Holy Spirit and in v.4 he says he has lied to God showing that the Holy Spirit is a person and that He is divine. d. v.5-6 As Peter spoke, Ananias was made aware of his sin and he fell down and breathed his last. This was a clear indication of an act of judgement from God and thats why great fear came upon all who heard about this incident. Immediately Ananias body was wrapped and taken out to be buried. e. v.7-10 Here we see that Sapphira (Ananias wife) came to the same place where they were

all gathered, after 3 hours. In v. 8 we see Peter asking Sapphira plainly whether the land was sold for the amount that Ananias had given to the Apostles. That is not the whole amount of the proceedings from the sale of the property. So in a way, Peter was giving her an opportunity to tell the truth. But when she also lied the same way her husband did, Peter had no doubt that she would share the same fate as her husband and hence his statement in v. 9. Peter is informing Sapphira of her impending death. Peters statement of, to test the Spirit of the Lord shows the deity of the Spirit. And in v.10 we see the same divine judgement come upon her and she also falls down dead and the same people who took away Ananias, took her as well and buried her next to her husband. f. v.11 There is not enough evidence to suggest whether or not Ananias and Sapphira were genuine believers but what we can see is that they did not behave as genuine believers. Some people think that this is a cruel way of dealing with sin but what we must remember is at that time, the Spirit was predominantly present in the community and He was blessing it with unity as we saw in Acts 4:32 and with power of miracles etc. It was by that same power judgement fell on those who denied the unity and power provided by the Holy Spirit.
II The Dedication and Deeds of the Apostles (Acts 5:12-16) g. v.12 Looking back in time from the start of the Apostles ministry until this time it would seem they had achieved a lot. Putting aside all the wonders and signs that happened through the Apostles, the number of believers that came to Christ were more than 10,000! Bringing one person to Christ, by sharing the gospel, would be such a joy for people at our time and sometimes we rest on those laurels. But here we can see the Apostles were dedicated to what they were called to do that is to be witnesses of Christ wherever they have to go. This wouldnt be possible without the help of the Holy Spirit. If we remember Jesus words, But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. This passage is a summary that centers on the Holy Spirits activity in the Apostles healing ministry. APPLICATION QUESTION 2: a. Why do you think none of the rest dared join them in v.13? b.And how is it that there are still believers being added to the Lord in v.14? Is this a contradiction? h. v.13-14 Some people cant understand what is mentioned in these 2 verses. How can people be scared of the Apostles and still have believers added to their numbers. What the text is trying to explain is that with the death of Ananias and Sapphira, all the people who were not totally committed were scared off. i. v.15-16 The shadow of Peter falling on the people is similar to the medium of healing Jesus used in Mark 6:56. The writer does not say the people were healed in this way but it goes to show the mindset of the people there based on what they have seen and heard the Apostles do. This is also an indication to the fact that the Holy Spirit was so powerfully manifested in Peter that people near him experienced the healing of the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:12)1. People from villages around Jerusalem also came to Jerusalem to be healed and there were sick and those who were being tormented by unclean spirits. III The Detention and Deliverance of the Apostles (Acts 5:17-21a) APPLICATION QUESTION 3: Some hold this incident to be a duplicate of the one recorded in Acts 4:1-22.
1 E.S.V. Study Bible Notes

List some of the differences between the two accounts. j. v.17-18 Some people think that this is a duplicate account of what happened in Acts 4 when Peter and John were arrested but some of the notable differences are that this time all the Apostles were involved and the result of the court meeting. Here we can read that the Sadducees on seeing the ministry of the Apostle, were filled with jealousy. They were not jealous for Gods honour or for the advancement of His kingdom but for the influence the apostles were having over the people there. Because of this the Apostles were arrested and put in a public prison to be brought before the council the next day. k. v.19-20 Here we see that at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out saying that they are to stand in the temple and speak to all the people there about the words of this Life. This shows the hand of God in this event and the command given was to speak the gospel message which was the message of salvation. It seems that early Christianity may also have been called the Life as well as the Way (Acts 9:1-2). l. v.21a And we see that after they heard the command they entered the temple at daybreak (that is at 06:00) and began to teach about the gospel of Jesus Christ. IV The Drama and Decision at the Court (Acts 5:21b-42) m. v.21b-23 In the morning the high priest called all those who were part of the council to gather and when they had done so, they had the Apostles summoned from the prison. But on arrival, the officers couldnt find them in prison and so they returned and reported the findings to the council that even though the prison was securely locked and the guards were at their stations the Apostles were missing from their prison cell. n. v.24-25 Naturally on hearing this any one would be greatly confused. The captain of the temple and the chief priests were perplexed. Then a person came and informed them that they were teaching at the temple. o. v.26-28 When the captain of the temple realized that the Apostles were well within his jurisdiction, he went to the temple with his officers and brought them to the council by requesting the Apostles to come along with them. They did this because they were afraid of being stoned by the people present there as they saw them holding the Apostles in great esteem. Once they were brought before the council, the high priest started his questioning. The high priest reminds them that they had been warned, at the previous council meeting, to not speak any more in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:18). The high priest makes mention as to one reason why they did not want the Apostles speaking in the name of Jesus. That is bringing the responsibility of Jesus death on themselves, the Jewish leaders. p. v.29-32 But Peter retorts back and states that they, the Apostles, must obey God rather than men. From v.30-32 we can see that Peter was explaining the reason for his statement in v.29. In the next few verses Peter brings about all contrasts just like when he spoke to the Jewish elders before. He stated that God raised up Jesus whom the Jewish elders killed. God exalted Jesus whom the Jewish elders disgraced (because He hung from a tree[Deut. 21:22-23]). Jesus was exalted with the utmost honor of becoming Leader and Savior who gave repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. One of the main reasons they couldnt keep quiet about all these events, though they were commanded not to by an earthly court, was because they were witnesses to all of it and it was the Holy Spirit who bears witness to them and gives them the courage to proclaim it boldly (Luke 12:11-12). And Peter states that the Holy Spirit is freely available to all those who would obey Gods call to repentance and a life of faith. q. v.33 With the last few verses (29-32), the Sanhedrin got a rude awakening. They thought they had ultimate authority in the land but the Apostles clearly explained that there was one who had even greater authority and that was Jesus Christ. This was a clear indication as to why the Apostles defied the order given by the Sanhedrin earlier. This angered the Sanhedrin greatly because of which they wanted

to kill all the Apostles. The sad part is that this pattern of resistance continues in the book of Acts (7:51; 12:1-3; 13:45; 25:7; 28:24). APPLICATION QUESTION 4: From Acts 5:33-42, how did God save the Apostles? Similarly, how has God helped you in difficult circumstances? Even though they wanted to kill the Apostles (most probably by stoning) they couldnt because they needed to get the support of the Pharisaic members of the court. Even though they were in the minority, the Pharisees commanded much more respect with the public than the Sadducees. They had great religious influence among the people. Most of the scribes (4:5; 6:12; 23:9) and the public expositors of the law belonged to the Pharisees. Because of this level of influence with the public, the Sadducee's at times could not oppose the Pharisees demands. So what the Pharisees had to say was important especially in a situation like this as the Apostles or the defendants enjoyed the peoples goodwill.2 r. v.34 There was a member of the Sanhedrin, named Gamaliel, who was a Pharisee and was a highly influential and well respected teacher of the law. In fact he was the greatest teacher in his day. He was held in honor by all the people. The main two schools of the Pharisees in the NT (latter part of Herods reign) were those of Hillel and Shammai. After the fall of Jerusalem and the end of the temple order in A.D.70 it was the Pharisees, and more particularly the heirs of the school of Hillel, who proved best to survive the disaster and preserve the continuity of national life. And it is believed that Gamaliel was Hillels disciple and he succeeded him as the head of the school3. Dr. Lightfoot even believes that Gamaliel is the son of Simeon who took the Saviour in his arms in Luke 2 and that he is the grandson of Hillel4 5. Gamaliel also had a great disciple whom we will see soon in the book of Acts. His name is Paul. He was the only person to stand up and speak against the immediate death sentence. He, at first, advised the Apostles to be removed from the court room so that he could speak freely to his colleagues. s. v.35-39 Gamaliel warned his colleagues about their decision by giving examples in history about certain men who claimed to be somebody but after a brief period they all perished and all their followers were scattered. The point Gamaliel was trying to make was that if an idea or group of people were not backed by God, it will come to nothing. That is why in v.38 he advices the council to stay away from the Apostles because if they do not have God with them, the Apostles will perish like Theudas and Judas. He also added that if God was indeed with them, then there is nothing the Sanhedrin could do to stop them and it will be as though they were going against God Himself. Gamaliels advice was sound Pharisaic teaching; God is over all, and needs no help from men for the fulfillment of His purposes; all men must do is to obey, and leave the issue to Him.6 And so the council agreed to that decision of not killing them. For the Sadducees to obey a Pharisee shows what a distinguished man Gamaliel was. t. v.40 They then brought back the Apostles and although they decided not to kill them, they flogged them and charged the Apostles to not speak in the name of Jesus again. After that threat, they were let go. This physical persecution was the first ever the Apostles had faced. u. v.41 Here we see the Apostles left the council and were rejoicing because they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the name of Jesus Christ. And in v.42 we see that the Apostles did not pay any attention to the ban the Sanhedrin put on them, that is to not speak in the name of Jesus Christ. We can see that they shared the gospel every day. Everywhere they went they would cease the opportunity to share the good news to whoever came their way, from the temple and from house to house.
2 Bruce, F. F. (1988). The Book of Acts, NICNT. Grand Rapids, MI :Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 3 Bruce, F. F. (1988). The Book of Acts, NICNT. Grand Rapids, MI :Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 4 Barnes, A. (1996). Barnes Notes on the Old and New Testaments. Grand Rapids, MI :Baker Book House Company 5 Clarke, A. (1997). Adam Clarkes Commentary on the Bible. Nashville, TN :Thomas Nelson Inc. 6Findlay, F.A. (1936). The Acts of the Apostles. London (P.85)